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The Duke of Buckingham was the key English commander of the conflict.

The Anglo-French war of 1627-1629 was part of the Thirty Years' War. It mainly involved actions at sea.[1] The center of the conflict surrounded the Siege of La Rochelle, in which the English crown supported the French Huguenots in their fight against the French royal forces of Louis XIII of France in 1627-1628. La Rochelle had become the stronghold of the French Huguenots, under its own governance. It was the center of Huguenot seapower, and the strongest center of resistance against the central government.[1]



The conflict followed the failure of the Anglo-French alliance of 1624, in which England had tried to find an ally in France against the power of the Habsburg. French politics evolved otherwise however as Cardinal Richelieu came to power in 1624. In 1625, Richelieu used English warships to vanquish the Huguenots at the Siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré (1625), triggering outrage in England.[2]

In 1626, France actually concluded a secret peace with Spain, and disputes arose around Henrietta Maria's household. Furthermore, France was building the power of its Navy, leading the English to be convinced that France must be opposed "for reasons of state".[2]

In June 1626, Walter Montagu was sent to France to contact dissident noblemen, and from March 1627 started to organized a French rebellion. The plan was to send an English fleet to encourage rebellion, as a new Huguenot revolt by Duke Henri de Rohan and his brother Soubise was being triggered.[2]

Ile de Ré expedition

Charles I, who sent his favourite George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham with a fleet of 80 ships. In June 1627 Buckingham organised a landing on the nearby island of Île de Ré with 6,000 men in order to help the Huguenots. Although a Protestant stronghold, Île de Ré had not directly joined the rebellion against the king. On Ile de Ré, the English under Buckingham tried to take the fortified city of Saint-Martin in the Siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, but were repulsed after three months. Small French Royal boats managed to supply St Martin in spite of the English blockade. Buckingham ultimately ran out of money and support, and his army was weakened by diseases. After a last attack on Saint-Martin they were repulsed with heavy casualties, and left with their ships.

La Rochelle expedition

The Siege of La Rochelle (map), by Jacques Callot, 17th century.

England attempted to send two more fleets to relieve La Rochelle. The first one, led by William Feilding, Earl of Dengbigh, left on April 1628, but returned without a fight to Portsmouth, as Dengbigh "said that he had no commission to hazard the king's ship in a fight and returned shamefully to Portsmouth".[3] A second fleet, organized by Buckingham just before his assassination, was dispatched under the Admiral of the Fleet, the Earl of Lindsey in August 1628,[3] consisting of 29 warships and 31 merchantmen.[4] In September 1628, the English fleet tried to relieve the city. After bombarding French positions and trying to force the sea wall in vain, the English fleet had to withdraw. Following this last disappointment, the city surrendered on October 28, 1628.


Following these defeats, England would end its involvement with the Thirty Years War, by negotiating a peace treaty with France in 1629. A peace treaty was also signed with Spain in 1630, also following a failed conflict with the 1625 Cádiz Expedition. England disinvolved itself from European affairs to the dismay of Protestant forces on the continent.[5]

In England, internal conflict continued between the Monarchy and the Parliament regarding the financing of the Navy, disputes which would lead to the 1641 English Civil War. France on the contrary continued to grow more powerful, its Navy becoming almost as large as that of Britain by 1630.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Warfare at sea, 1500-1650: maritime conflicts and the transformation of Europe by Glete J Staff, Jan Glete Routledge, 2002 ISBN 0203024567 p.178 [1]
  2. ^ a b c Historical dictionary of Stuart England, 1603-1689 by Ronald H. Fritze p.203 [2]
  3. ^ a b An apprenticeship in arms by Roger Burrow Manning p.119
  4. ^ Ships, money, and politics by Kenneth R. Andrews, p.150
  5. ^ Peltonen, p.271


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